Kenya facing condom shortage

March 23, 2011 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, March 23 – The government has admitted there is a shortage of condoms in the country that has forced it to ask 45 million emergency condoms from the US President\’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) which are expected in the country on April 10.

Public Health Director Shahnaaz Sharif said the stock of condoms in the country ran out because the demand exceeded supply and also because procurement bureaucracy slowed down their acquisition. 

He added that the shortage had seen an average of eight million Kenyans lose access to the condoms noting that the last batch (of 19 million condoms) came in January and lasted for one and a half months.

The revelation comes after reports emerged that residents of Isiolo were recycling the protective devices.

"The demand was eight million per month, then it went to 12 million and currently stands at around 20 million; that gives you the number of encounters people would have. But it could be one person using five condoms or using them every day," he quipped. 

National AIDS Control Programme deputy director Peter Cherutich explained that the government had, in addition, signed a long term agreement with the United Nations Population Fund to supply 180 million condoms.

He added that the government was also expecting an additional consignment of condoms in May, which was expected to last until August.

"The delivery bought 19 million condoms in January which were distributed. But we are expecting others that will come in consistently beginning May, for 30 million condoms each month, until August," he explained.

Dr Cherutich however noted that the poor infrastructure especially, in the grassroots, had been hindering the distribution of condoms forcing the government to partner with Community Based Organisations to facilitate the delivery.

"We have procured vehicles that will transport these condoms to the interior but we must also appreciate that their delivery requires proper road networks and that is one of the challenges that we face," he said.

The government also moved to reassure Kenyans on the availability of ARVs after media reports indicated that there was a shortage. Public Health minister Beth Mugo said that donors were not pulling out from funding HIV/AIDS programmes in the country and instead explained that they were reorganising their funding structures.

"The current PEPFAR II programme which supports HIV/AIDS to the tune of Sh3.3 trillion ends in 2015 after which all US aid to the health sector including HIV will be channelled through the Global Health Initiative programme," she said.

She added that her ministry expected the Treasury to increase the budgetary allocation for HIV interventions in the coming financial year. The Exchequer allocated Sh900 million for HIV/AIDS in the current financial year.

The government has also proposed to introduce air line tax, through the various airlines in the country, to raise monies for HIV intervention measures for children, especially in preventing mother to child transmissions.

"And surely if one is able to pay a ticket to London or even New York or Dubai, I don\’t think they can feel the pain if they put two more dollars or one to keep a child from getting HIV from the mother," she argued.

She added that 15 African countries, including Chad, were already raising money through the said proposal.

"We have prepared a joint cabinet memorandum on a proposal by UNITAID to raise funds for HIV care and treatment through and air levy. It will be ready once all the shareholders have signed maybe in two months time," she said.

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